This past weekend’s 60th running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona was one for the history books. The car counts were massive, the weather was generally more hospitable than in previous years, there weren’t too many incidents that caused lengthy yellow flags, and the action was top-notch throughout its entire sun-down-to-sun-up duration. One particular moment in the GT Daytona Pro class stood out from the rest, though.
Enthusiasts will be talking about and rewatching Laurens Vanthoor’s and Mathieu Jaminet’s last laps for years to come. The two battled it out for first place down to the final lap, and it was a display of racing at its finest for several key reasons.
There are longer versions that capture previous laps, but these 2 minutes and 45 seconds are absolutely wild. Jaminet was in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R, while Vanthoor piloted the No. 2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3R. Both of these cats are Porsche factory drivers, which essentially means they’ve achieved a high enough professional status that it’s much easier than usual to get a seat in Porsche racecars around the globe. They’ve both got a racing resume that’s stacked at least two inches high.
The action in these laps speaks for itself. This is what makes racing great, and it not only helps rile up racing fans, but it also potentially aids in getting more folks into it. Even the most casual of channel surfers might see this and have a massive light bulb switch on in their heads about wanting to learn more about motorsports.
Watching how each driver goes about positioning himself on track, how they block, the contact they make with each other, and the risks they take is all so wild. Unfortunately for Vanthoor, his risk of trying to charge ahead into the kink and barging his way past Jaminet on the final lap doesn’t pay off. Jaminet holds his line, and while his car is unsettled by the aggressive move, the same can’t be said for Vanthoor who has a massive spin-out. Luckily, he doesn’t make contact with a wall or another car, and he lights up the rear tires to scramble back into line as a last-ditch effort. He ended up in third place.
At first, it’s a little confusing: Was there a little too much aggression? As journalist Peter Leung pointed out on Twitter, it ended up being a very “well done my friend, great race” kind of situation with a pat on the back.
And this demonstrates that camaraderie makes motorsports great. Well, any sport, actually. That decisive, edge-of-your-seat battle of wits and risk, where two equals in top form put all their strength and focus into doing everything they can to reach the finish line first. There’s some major aggression on display, but it’s a two-way street. And it’s not too aggressive, such as something as heinous as purposely putting your opponent into the wall.
The fact that they went up to each other afterwards and had a genuine embrace shows that all that went down was within bounds and that they were thrilled to be in such a heated moment of competition. Races like this are what they live for.
While it shows he’s got class, I don’t think Vanthoor had to post this statement, the above photo is worth a thousand words.
I think for most racing fans, this kind of sportsmanship is greatly appreciated, as it shows the relatable human aspect that we all encounter. Sure, most of us will never race neck and neck in high-dollar pro racing, but if you’ve ever given it all you’ve got while competing with friends and/or rivals in basketball, golf, poker, whatever, you’ve probably ended with a solid “well done, my friend” kind of moment, whether you won or lost.
Edge-of-your-seat action and sportsmanship are what make racing great, keep it relevant, and ensure that there will be years of unwritten chapters to come.
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